It’s that close

Published 10:46 am Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It doesn’t get any closer than the election between incumbent Tom Stiehm and first-time candidate Mark Nagle in the Austin mayoral race.

According to unofficial results, Stiehm was elected to a second term by 39 votes (5,233 to 5,194), even fewer than in his first campaign two years ago against Norm Hecimovich.

“I’ve won both elections by less than 100 votes,” the mayor said Tuesday night at city hall, where he and his wife, Sarah, awaited results after removing his political signs around town.

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Stiehm said this election has not only brought to his attention his need to campaign harder, but to not assume the issues will carry him.

“I think Mark worked really hard on his campaign,” he said. “When you’re an incumbent mayor, you have an advantage.”

Nagle said Tuesday night he believes he did a great job with his campaign, and hopes there will be a recount because of the narrow margin.

“The difference between me and him (Stiehm) is I go out and make the effort,” he said, adding, “It’s one of the most fun things I’ve done in my life. I met so many great people.”

Nagle, a business consultant and co-owner of South Central Athlete and Grinder’s Deli, said he will absolutely not run for office again.

“I would never play politics again,” Nagle said, comparing “taking a chance” on a candidate to “a Powerball ticket.”

Stiehm said he believes his first two-year term was reallya learning experience, and he will try to be more visible in the community and outgoing while in office.

“I had to be kind of quiet and sit back and learn the ropes,” he said. “I’ve matured a lot in the position.”

In his upcoming term, Stiehm said he plans to focus on the jail and justice center as well as the budget deficit at the state level.

“We’re down to the bare bones on city employees,” he said, explaining he will try to avoid staff cuts despite slashes in funding.

“What do people want to cut? What do they want to do?” he said.

“Everybody is scared right now; it’s not easy on me either,” said the retired police detective, who said he is relying on his pension. “I feel the pinch just like everybody else.”

County auditor Doug Groh said a recount will be conducted if an official request is received from Nagle.

Groh said there were 53 write-ins in the race, 555 voters didn’t vote for either candidate and three voted for both.